South Dakota Open PRO-AM 2017 Day 1

south dakota open pro-am 2017

Day 1



  • Tee time: 9:10am Hole 10

I got to the course 1.5 hours before my tee time, which is usually when I like to get there. Sometimes two hours, if the driving range is farther away from clubhouse or something.

Then, I got some practice in. I typically like to take it easy on tournament days, focusing more on getting loose than grinding hard.  Today, I focused on getting a good feel of the greens and hit some chip shots first. After that, I proceeded to the driving range with an hour remaining. Practicing full shots at about 70% and worked up to my driver getting closer to 80%. Then, I headed back to short game and putting. Sometimes I will head back to range if nearby and hit a few more shots – ones similar to what I would be hitting on the first hole.

Sounds like a lot, but I am still gauging how much warm-up time I need on tournament days.


South Dakota Open PRO-AM 2017: First 9 Holes

I teed off on #10, which was a short par 4, 380 yards. My ball-of-choice was – and is – a Titleist Prov 1 Black with a line down the middle as a putting aid. One single dot in pink sharpie next to the Titleist number. My goal on the first tee shot?  Just hit the fairway. Something I have done a lot recently in tournaments. You’re really off to a great start when you can accomplish the first goal of the day.

Based on the tee sheet, I was third to hit. I grabbed my 4-iron and hit a smooth one right down the middle. Hit next shot on the green and lagged it up to a few feet for par. Solid start.

Bluffs Golf Course #11

Hole #11 was a drivable par 4, 350 yards. Today the wind was blowing out of the NW, so it was playing downwind. The wind was blowing at 30 and gusts of 40 all day. Driver was just smooth on this hole. Hit one just short of the green 10 yards. Had a pretty straight chip and didn’t catch it all that great. Left it about 15 feet short and missed birdie putt.

Bluffs Golf Course #13

Hole #13 was a difficult hole because of the wind. It played downhill 35 yards and you cannot see much of the landing zone. In other words, it’s one of the more challenging holes.  Because of the wind and being downhill, 4-iron was the play. Anything higher is way too much club. Hit it well in the right rough, which was fine. The number in was 125 that played into a challenging green that slopes from left to right. I reached my 55-degree wedge because it looked as if I had a flier lie and also downwind. I stepped up and it just landed short right of the green, giving me a tough up-and-down. Chipped it to six feet and missed it for bogey.  +1 on the day so far.

Bluffs Golf Course #14-#17

The next few holes I played level par.

Bluffs Golf Course #18

Hole #18 was playing 570 yards straight into a 40mph wind. I chose driver and aimed to keep it low. Even with that wind, I hit it about 260 yards off the tee, which was pretty good. I laid up with a 4-iron and still had 145 yards in to a back pin. Here I chose to hit a 3/4 knockdown 6-iron. It just rolled off the back, but was the same level as the pin – good. With a downhill putt and downwind coming out of the fringe, I opted to hit my wedge. My 56-degree came up a little thin and did not spin at all. The ball rolled to about 15 feet past the pin. Made a good putt for par, but just missed it for a bogey 6.

I made the turn at 2 over par at this point.


South Dakota Open PRO-AM 2017: Final 9 Holes

Bluffs Golf Course #1

My back nine started on Hole #1. It was a 390-yard par 4, playing straight downwind (similar to #10). I grabbed my 4-iron, because if you hit anything more it brings trouble right into play. The ball came out very high, and it just went forever. I got up there and out-drove both of my playing competitors – both of whom hit driver off the tee.

I ended up having just 40 yards in on my second shot, which meant I hit the drive 350 yards with my 4-iron. It was pretty insane.  Hit a good shot just left of the pin to 20 feet and missed the putt.

Bluffs Golf Course #2 – #4

I chose to hit 3-wood off of #2. Approach shot had a 9-iron into the par 5 and good look for eagle. I ended up making a birdie.

Parred #3.

On #4, I hit a good shot onto the green, but three-putted from the front of the green for a bogey.

Bluffs Golf Course #5

Hole #5  was blowing very hard straight into the face. It was playing 165. I grabbed a 6-iron and tried keeping it low, but it sailed through the air and missed the green far right. Had a straightforward chip, just misjudged the runout and ended up 15 feet short. Missed it for par.

Bluffs Golf Course #6

Birdied Hole #6, the par 5. Had another good look for eagle and just missed it.

Bluffs Golf Course #9

Hole #9 was playing dead into the wind again. I hit 3-wood off of tee, trying to flight it low. And it sailed off to the right in the fairway. It played 185 in. I hit 4-iron, which sailed off right. Made bogey here because I failed to get up and down again.


South Dakota Open PRO-AM 2017: Recap

Overall, a good ball-striking day. I felt confident with most of my shots. Just did not make the putts that I needed to. I should have easily been at even par. But a few mistakes with the flatstick will do that to you. If I would have gotten up-and-down from those shots where I missed the green, I may have even been below par.  Just could not match the speed of the greens with the wind.

I hope tomorrow I get a better draw with the wind. The early groups shot some low scores with no wind.

On to round 2 with some work to do, but also very excited for the challenge. Click here for South Dakota Open PRO-AM 2017 Day 2.


Sean McWilliams, Professional Golfer from Arizona. Former Division 1 Pitcher and Canandaigua, NY native. Join me on my journey throughout the US and Canada as I go after my professional golf dream, taking on the, PGA TOUR, Mackenzie Tour – PGA Canada events, and mini-tours like the Dakotas Tour. I’ll also be sharing tour travel tips, golf course and gear reviews, and much, much more.

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